The ancient Romans were practical people.
They wanted their art and architecture to be as practical and useful as
possible. They also wanted it to be beautiful, but only if it was
practical. So a great deal of their art was used in the construction of
the architecture they built - in their buildings, baths, temples, road
signs, and homes. Concrete is a ancient Roman invention. They used
concrete in structures to make them strong. They placed designs into the
concrete area, if any, that was visible.
The Romans were also realists. When the
ancient Romans created statues, they tried to make the statues look as
much as possible like the subject or model. If the subject had a big
nose, the ancient Roman artist would give the statue a big nose. (The
ancient Greeks would never have done that. The Greeks loved beauty for
beauty's sake. The ancient Romans loved beauty that was practical.)
The Romans are famous for their mosaics,
which were made of bits and pieces of colored ceramic tile. Their
artists put these pieces together in breathtakingly beautiful ways. But
the tiles were also practical. Mosaics were used on floors and walls and
hallways and entry ways to not only beautify but to strengthen. They
were also easy to wash.
Very little of Roman art was created
simply for beauty's sake. Nearly all their art had a practical purpose,
such as honoring their gods.
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